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Learning and Study

Glossary

A

Academic Librarians
Academic Librarians help students use information sources in their subject areas. They provide teaching sessions and resources to help students develop their information skills. They are also responsible for purchasing information sources, such as books, journals and databases. In some universities these staff are called 'subject librarians'.
Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning (APL)
Accreditation of prior (experiential) learning can be used by universities to recognise work experience or voluntary work in the place of academic qualifications. Prior learning can be used either as an entry qualification or it may be counted as credit towards a university programme.
Admissions Tutors
Staff in each school or faculty in a university who are responsible for enquiries about the admissions process.
Alumni
People who have graduated (i.e. completed a course and gained a qualification) from a particular university are described as alumni. Most universities have active alumni associations that enable past students to keep in touch with each other and the university.
Athletic Union (Sports Union)
This is usually a part of the main Students Union and is organised by students to provide a wide range of sporting opportunities and competitions between universities.

B

Bachelor's degree

Undergraduates study for a bachelor's degree. Examples of bachelor's degrees are: Bachelor of Arts (BA); Bachelor of Science (BSc); Bachelor of Education (BEd). Most bachelor degrees in the UK are awarded with 'Honours' (Hons). Students who marginally fail the degree are sometimes awarded a degree without honours.

Bachelor's degrees are awarded at various levels:

  • A first class honours degree is the highest category honours.
  • A second class honours is awarded to the majority of university students. This award is also divided into levels with an upper second (2:1) being the highest.
  • A third class honours is usually the lowest award for a bachelor's degree.
Bridging course
A 'bridging' course is also known as a 'top-up' course. Students who join these courses are usually joining the final year of a degree programme, having studied a foundation course elsewhere.

C

Campus
1. A 'campus' usually refers to the buildings and surroundings of a university. Leeds Beckett has two campuses (or sites): Headingley Campus and City Campus.
2. Many of the universities founded in the 1960s and built outside towns and cities are called 'campus universities', for example Lancaster and York. Universities where the buildings are more integrated with the city or town, such as in Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester, are not known as 'campus universities'.
Careers Services
These provide a service for all students throughout their time at university and beyond. They provide guidance about future career possibilities, and advise students about improving their employability whilst they are studying. Graduate employers visit universities to recruit students and the Careers Service will organise and promote these 'milk round' events.
Chancellors (of universities)

Chancellors are the 'figurehead' of a university. They tend to be distinguished public figures and have mostly ceremonial duties such as awarding degrees.

See also Vice-Chancellors

Citation

The point within a piece of academic writing where a quotation or some paraphrased or summarised information, is supported with brief information about the source, such as an author and date, or a superscripted number, which directs the reader to a reference containing the full details of the source.

See also Reference

Clearing
System operated by UCAS to allocate students places on courses that still have vacancies after the publication of the A level results. Although it is principally for those who have not achieved the grades required by their chosen universities, it also allows last minute applications to new institutions.
Core modules
Modules which everyone on a course has to study, as opposed to 'electives' which are optional.
Course Administrator
A course administrator does the administration associated with delivering a university course. They help with enrolment, support academic staff in their work, produce key documents such as course handbooks, maintain student records, and provide information to students on the course.
Course Leader
Member of academic staff who has overall responsibility for a particular course. This responsibility may also be shared by module leaders, module tutors and course administrators.

D

Dean
The Dean is a senior member of university staff who is responsible for all matters concerning the operation of a faculty, including teaching.
Debt (student)
The amount of money that most UK students need to repay after the end of their courses. Student Loans do not have to be repaid until you reach a certain income level. Bank loans often have to be repaid sooner.
Diploma of Higher Education (Dip.HE)
A qualification that may awarded by some universities, after 2 years of study.
Discipline
An academic field of study or branch of knowledge, for example Sociology, Chemistry, Theology.
Dissertation
A substantial piece of written work in report form, usually about an independent research project, submitted by a student as part of the requirements for many first degrees and for postgraduate Masters level courses.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)
A postgraduate degree awarded for a substantial piece of original (but supervised) specialist research. Normally the research would take place over a period of at least three years. Holders of the award (Ph.D) can use the title of Doctor (Dr).

E

Electives
These are optional modules, as opposed to compulsory 'core' modules, which students choose to study, from an available selection. The electives on a course may vary each year and elective modules only run if enough students choose them.
Essays
Essays are pieces of written work and are a major form of assessment in universities. Essays are written in formal, grammatically sound English. Usually there is a set word count (depending on the course) but 2000-2500 words is common. Students are expected to answer a question, showing that they have done some reading, and that they can discuss or explain a topic clearly and logically. Essays are used more in the humanities and social sciences than in science and technology courses.

F

Faculty
A faculty is a grouping of academic schools or departments which are grouped together for teaching, research and administrative purposes. For example: Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Arts.
Fees
See Tuition fees
Finals
Exams taken by students at the end of a degree course. In the past most of the assessment for a degree was based on these exams. Most degrees today tend to be awarded on assessment throughout the duration of the course.
Freshers
Students beginning their time at university are usually referred to as Freshers and a Freshers' Week, or induction week, will be organised to introduce them to university life. This will include social events as well as introductions to libraries and other services.

G

Graduates
A graduate is a person who has been awarded a degree from a university or college. While studying for a degree you are known as an undergraduate. After completing the degree you become a graduate. If you undertake further study after your degree (e.g. Master's degree or Ph.D) you will be known as a postgraduate student.

H

Halls
Halls of residence are blocks of student accommodation. Some provide meals and some have self-catering facilities. At most universities, priority for places in halls is given to first year students.
Higher Education
Higher Education refers to study at a university, as opposed to primary and secondary education (compulsory school level in the UK), or tertiary education (college or sixth form level in the UK). The term 'Higher education' can also be used to refer to all universities. Most people studying in higher education are aiming for a degree or postgraduate qualification.
Humanities
One of the three principal areas of human knowledge along with 'social sciences' and 'science and technology'. The humanities includes subjects like: art, history, literature and music.

I

International Student Exchange
Many universities offer students the chance to study at a university in another country, in place of part of their course, typically a semester or an academic year. There are a number of international schemes which universities participate in. Individual courses or departments might have exchange arrangements with similar courses at overseas universities.

J

Job Shop
The 'Job Shop' at Leeds Beckett is a student employment agency. Most universities have a similar service to help their students find temporary or part time jobs.
Journals
Journals, also called periodicals, serials, or to the general public, 'magazines', are published on a regular basis and contain articles written mainly by university researchers. These are a useful and important source of information. Each issue of a journal contains a number of articles and journals are published in a sequence of volumes and parts, which are numbered to help with finding printed copies, though most are now published and used online. Many academic journal articles are peer reviewed; an independent expert on the topic has examined the article to make sure it is accurate and suitable for publishing.

L

Lecturers or Tutors
Lecturers and tutors are members of university staff who are responsible for the teaching of university courses and in helping students to learn.
Lectures

A lecture is a large group teaching session. Many lectures are accompanied with handouts for students, usually available on the university online VLE (virtual learning environment) although you will generally be encouraged to make your own notes too. Most lecturers now try to make lectures less formal and encourage active participation from students.

See also Seminars

See also Tutorials

Levels

These usually correspond to one year of full time study at university.

Undergraduate Year One Level 4
Undergraduate Year Two Level 5
Undergraduate Year Three Level 6
Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma/Masters Level 7
Loans
See Debt (student)

M

Magazines
See Journals
Modular Courses
Courses are divided into modules (See 'Electives') and students are required to pass a number of modules to complete a degree programme. To achieve a degree you will usually have to study a mixture of compulsory and optional modules.
Module Leader
A module leader is responsible for the overall management of a particular module.
Module Tutors
These tutors teach on the module and are available to offer guidance on the particular subject area of study. Module tutors can be asked to give support towards the completion of assignments.
Multiple Choice Questions
A multiple choice questions is made up of two main parts. The first is an objective test item in the form of a statement - this is called the stem. The second part is a number of possible answers - usually with one being correct (the key) and the others incorrect (distractors).

N

Newspapers
See Journals

O

Overseas study
See International Student Exchange

P

Periodicals
See Journals
Personal Tutors
A personal tutor is an academic member of staff who is allocated to assist you with your progress throughout your course.
Ph.D
See Doctor of Philosophy
Plagiarism
Plagiarism is the term used for passing off other people's work as your own. This includes material or ideas from any source, whether printed, electronic, web-based or audiovisual. Plagiarism is regarded as serious misconduct by universities; it can be seen as a form of theft - a plagiarist is taking the credit for work they have not done.
Postgraduate courses
Courses usually only available for those who have already passed an undergraduate degree. Postgraduate study can take the form of a Masters degree (MA/M.Sc.) or a Postgraduate Certificate (P.G.Cert) or Diploma (P.G.Dip). Students on these courses are usually known as 'postgraduates' 'postgraduates'
Professors
Usually one of the senior academic staff within a department who becomes a professor as a result of specialist research and teaching. Some large departments will have more than one professor each with their own subject specialism.
Prospectus
A prospectus is a booklet or web-pages, which gives the details of courses, activities and student life at a university or college. A university prospectus is normally designed to give information to anyone who wishes to study with that university and can be obtained from the Admissions Office, website, or during an Open Day.

R

Redbrick

Redbrick is a term that is often applied to city universities usually established before 1992. The Universities of Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle and Birmingham are some of the universities that would be included in this group of universities.

See also Russell Group

Reference

A detailed bibliographic description of a resource from which you have obtained information. References are listed at the end of a piece of written work; this list is called either a 'list of references' or a 'bibliography'.

See also Citation

Research
Research is the collection and analysis of data with the explicit aim of gathering information on a particular topic, question or problem. The data might be generated by the researcher and collected by methods such as experiments, surveys or questionnaires. Or data might be collected from published or unpublished sources, such as government statistics or journal articles - this is sometimes called desk, or secondary, research.
Research student

A research student is any student, part-time or full-time, registered for a research award, for example:

  • PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
  • MPhil, (Master of Philosophy)
  • Masters by Research (MSc)
  • Research Dip
  • EdD (Doctorate in Education)
  • MRes (Masters of Research) and so on

A 'research student' is also a 'postgraduate student' but there is often confusion between these two terms. 'Postgraduate student' is a broader category than 'research student'.

Russell Group

The Russell Group is comprised of the UK's leading research intensive universities. These universities are usually associated with the highest standards of research, teaching and learning. They play a major role in the UK economy, and in its cultural welfare.

The Russell Group website

S

Sandwich courses
Sandwich courses are degree courses which include an extra year 'sandwiched' between the years of study when a student may decide to take up a work placement. They can be optional or compulsory, and the work and the experiences on placement may or may not count towards your qualification. Students may sometimes be paid by their work placement employer.
Semesters and Terms

The academic year is divided into 3 terms or 2 semesters. A semester is half a study year.

There are varying start dates for some courses which will affect when the semesters begin and end. The first semester for a course starting in September would run from September to January, and the second semester would run from February to June.

Seminars

A seminar is a meeting of a group of students with a tutor for academic purposes, e.g. to follow up on a lecture. During a seminar, the students can take a more active role and participate in a more informal and dynamic discussion about the topics and materials covered in a lecture.

See also Lectures

See also Tutorials

Serials
See Journals
Sponsorship
Some students are given financial support for their studies by a business or organisation that may wish to employ that student in the future.
Student fees
See Tuition fees
Student loans
See Debt (student)
Student Representatives (Reps)
Every course has at least one student who volunteers to represent their fellow students in formal university meetings (e.g. course committee meetings).
Students' Union
Each university will have a Students' Union (which will probably be part of the National Union of Students - NUS). The Union will represent the interests of students. The union can also provide a focal point for student activities.
Study abroad
See International Student Exchange

T

Terms
See Semesters and Terms
Top-up course
See Bridging course
Tuition fees

Tuition fees for full-time courses are set by the Government and paid to the university directly. Depending on your (or your family's) circumstances the entire fees may be paid for you. The tuition fees for part-time courses will vary according to the length of the course and the university.

Guidance about tuition fees is available from the GOV.UK - Student finanace pages.

Tutorials

A small group meets to discuss with each other and their tutor the work they are doing and more general course issues. Tutorials can also be on an individual basis with a student discussing their work with a tutor.

See also Seminars

Tutors
See Lecturers or Tutors

U

UCAS
See Universities and Colleges Admissions Services
Undergraduate

An undergraduate is someone studying either full or part time for a first degree including:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Science (BSc)
  • Bachelor of Education (BEd)
  • Bachelor of Engineering (BEng)
  • Bachelor of Laws (LLB)
Universities and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS)
UCAS is an acronym of 'Universities and Colleges Admissions Services' and is a national organisation that processes all undergraduate applications to universities in the UK. If you live in the UK and you want to study full-time on an undergraduate courses, you will apply through UCAS.

V

Vice-Chancellor
The Vice-Chancellor (VC) is the most senior manager in charge of a British university (in some British universities also known as a 'Principal' or 'Chief Executive'), similar to an American university's 'President'. The VC manages the strategic direction of the University.

W

Work placements
See Sandwich courses